How did you get where you are today?
I started my career in the automotive industry as an export salesman living and working in Mexico and the Far East. I moved into food after seven years of world travel and have worked since for several blue-chip companies including Lyons Tetley, Young's, Northern Foods and Loseley, during which time I introduced Ben & Jerry's ice cream into the UK.
What was the best decision you have made in your career and why?
Moving from the automotive industry to food - because the food industry is much more exciting and passionate.
Whom do you most admire in the grocery industry?
Gordon Conrad for having the insight more than 20 years ago to import Greek yoghurt. At the time he was considered mad for even thinking of trying to sell Greek yoghurt to UK consumers. Today that market is worth £50m at rsp and several companies who originally derided Gordon now make Greek-style yoghurt.
Do you have any mentors and how have they helped you in your career?
Not now, but there have been several notables who have inspired and helped me over the years. One of the best is Colin Foxley, who currently works for Northern Foods. Colin is a great motivator and taught me that, with good people around you, nothing is impossible.
What is the most important piece of information you have ever been told?
Always try to give customers what they want but on your terms - and planning, preparation and persistence pay off eventually.
If you could change one thing in the grocery industry what would it be?
Buyer churn - it is very frustrating that supermarket buyers change so often within categories. Smaller suppliers such as us find it difficult to even meet a new buyer during the first few months because of the inevitable pecking order process - putting larger suppliers first.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Selling such a great product as Total Greek yoghurt and seeing sales grow year after year.
What is the one thing you could not do your job without?
If you could start your career again, what would you do differently and why?
Start in export, but spend a lot of time looking for a great product to import.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry today?
Enjoy it. It's a great industry, but be prepared for constant change and hard work.